LONDON — Caroline Flack, former host of the popular British reality show “Love Island,” has died at the age of 40, her family confirmed to BBC on Saturday evening local time. A lawyer for the family said she died by suicide and was found in her London apartment.
The star had recently been embroiled in a domestic violence case and was charged in December with assaulting her partner, tennis player Lewis Burton. Her trial was set to begin in a matter of weeks.
In December, Flack announced she would no longer host “Love Island” and called the show “her world.”
On Friday, she posted to her Instagram account, sharing photographs of her and her pet dog, while Burton shared a Valentine’s Day tribute to Flack, uploading a photo of the pair with the caption: “Love you.”
Flack’s Instagram post came after weeks of social-media silence. In December, the former reality show host told fans that she had been advised “not to go on social media.” In a post late last year, she thanked fans for their support and said the intense scrutiny she was under was “a lot to take on for one person on their own.”
“I’m a human being at the end of the day and I’m not going to be silenced when I have a story to tell and a life to keep going with … I’m taking some time out to get feeling better and learn some lessons from situations I’ve got myself into to. I have nothing but love to give and best wishes for everyone,” Flack wrote.
Britain’s ITV television channel, which hosts the popular show, released a statement Saturday, writing that the presenter was “a much loved member of the Love Island team.”
News of Flack’s death stunned people around the world, with her name quickly becoming the top Twitter trend worldwide as fans and celebrities paid tribute.
Laura Whitmore, who replaced Flack as the host of “Love Island,” paid tribute to her Saturday. “I’m trying to find the words but I can’t,” she tweeted, sharing a photo of the pair.
Piers Morgan also remembered her, tweeting: “Caroline was a fun, bright & sparky person whose whole world collapsed recently, both professionally & personally. She told me it had been the worst time of her life, and was clearly struggling to cope with losing everything she held dear. This is such sad, awful news.”
On social media, many called out the British tabloids for hounding the TV personality in the lead-up to the trial scheduled to begin in March.
“I didn’t know Caroline Flack. People would do well to remember that ‘celebrities’ & public figures have interior lives. The UK tabloid press is a disgrace in treating the worst moments of people’s lives as entertainment. Maybe think about if strangers were poring over yours,” tweeted the Guardian’s Hannah Jane Parkinson.
British tabloid the Sun, which had labeled the star “Caroline Whack” following the alleged assault on her partner, was widely attacked on social media for its earlier negative coverage of the presenter. On social media, users shared images of error messages displayed on the paper’s website after it appeared that coverage of Flack had been deleted. It was not clear when the articles had been taken down.
On Twitter, #dontbuythesun and #TheScum — a jab at the tabloid’s name — trended Saturday evening in London.
“Love Island” has come under scrutiny in recent years after the deaths of two of its former contestants, Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis. Their deaths sparked calls for better care for those featured on the show and prompted some calls for it to be canceled.
In 2018, Gradon, 32, who starred in the second series of “Love Island,” took her own life. The former beauty queen was found by her 25-year-old boyfriend, Aaron Armstrong, who took his own life 20 days later, the BBC reported at the time. Thalassitis starred in the third series of the show and died by suicide in March.
If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255). You can also text a crisis counselor by messaging the Crisis Text Line at 741741.
Paulina Firozi contributed to this report.